Air quality: Commission gives nine countries their “last chance”
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    Air quality: Commission gives nine countries their “last chance”

    © Belga
    As heatwave temperatures rise, officials warn that air quality levels could suffer.
    © Belga

    The European Commission gave nine countries, considered as the EU’s main culprits in the sphere of air quality, around ten days to comply with its requirements. They include France, Germany and the United Kingdom – but not yet Belgium. The countries are obliged to lay out new measures to avoid their referral to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

    The nine countries have until “the end of next week to compile comprehensive reports” if they wish to avoid referral to the ECJ. The European Parliament explained the position following a meeting with the nine ministers summoned to Brussels for a “last chance summit”.

    Air pollution is considered responsible for more than 400,000 premature deaths a year in the EU, excluding European citizens with respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. The Commission estimates that this problem is costing the EU economy more than €20 billion per year.

    The nine countries summoned – being Germany, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, the Czech Republic, Romania, the United Kingdom and Slovakia – regularly exceed the emission standards intended to protect the deterioration of health of Europeans due to fine particulate matter (PM10) or nitrogen dioxide (NO2), indeed in some cases both of them.

    The Commission says that in total 23 out of 28 countries are still exceeding the required air quality standards, when assessed against the presence of these substances. There are currently 16 matters open relating to fine particulate matter, 13 such matters for nitrogen dioxide and one for sulphur dioxide. The problem affects more than 130 towns and cities in Europe.

    The organisation for the protection of the environment, Greenpeace, has expressed the view that Belgium could well “be the next to have its wrist slapped.” Greenpeace stresses, “Although Belgium has not been summoned to the meeting today, its time is coming, as it is also targeted by such procedures, as much in respect of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as fine particulate matter (PM10).”

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times